Man Finds His Stolen Car While Driving Around Volusia County

Anthony John Romine spent some time in the Volusia County Jail charged with grand theft auto. While the crime is not uncommon, the way Romine was caught is. He’s in jail as a result of the car’s owner getting mad and hunting his car down.

The vehicles owner, Larry Burgess is responsible for Romine’s capture, as he was determined to find his stolen car and searched throughout Volusia County for two days.

Burgess was shopping at the Publix grocery store on Ridgewood Avenue when he set his car keys down at the customer service counter before moving to another register.

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As Burgess was talking to a clerk, another customer, later identified as Romine, covered the keys with a piece of paper and then slipped them into his pocket, store surveillance video shows. Exterior cameras also captured video of Romine driving off in Burgess’s black Hyundai Genesis, according to Holly Hill police.

When he couldn’t find his keys, Burgess went out of the store to and see if he left them in his car, but his car was already stolen. Burgess called the Holly Hill police department, and officers responded to the Publix to collect security videos and a victim statement. Police entered the vehicle identification number (VIN) and description into the system and issued a BOLO for the vehicle.

But Burgess told Orlando’s Channel 6 he wanted to try finding it himself.

“I just wasn’t going to sit around the house and do nothing,” Burgess said. “Police are busy. They have a lot of things to do besides look for a stolen car. I get that. So, I just wanted to help them out and help myself out.”

Using his other vehicle, Burgess said he spent much of the next two days driving through Holly Hill in hopes of spotting his stolen Hyundai.

As Burgess drove along U.S. 1, he looked over at a thrift store and noticed his car parked outside the building.

“I was in shock,” Burgess said. “I just couldn’t believe it. I found the car.”

“When I pulled up behind that car and saw my tag, I almost jumped through the roof,” Larry Burgess said. “I said ‘Oh my god, that’s my car! That’s the stolen car!’”

Burgess decided to block the car in and called 911 to report the recovery. Just then Romine, who he recognized from the Publix surveillance videos, came out of the thrift store.

“He says, ‘Do you mind letting me out? You’re blocking my car.’ I said, ‘That’s not your car, [expletive]. That’s my car!’” Burgess said. “He said, ‘I just bought that car two days ago.’ I said, ‘No, you didn’t. You just stole it two days ago at the Publix and you’re on video, [expletive]!’”

After the exchange, Burgess said the thief ran away “like a dog”

Inside the car, officers recovered numerous photographs of Romine and his girlfriend. “That’s him,” Burgess said as he looked at the photos, according to video captured by an officer’s body-worn camera.

While officers were examining Burgess’s recovered car, a woman who identified herself as Romine’s mother gave them the keys to the car and apologized to Burgess, police video shows.

Police tracked down Romine about two weeks later and arrested him for the theft. Romine posted a $15,000 bond and was released from the Volusia County jail.

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